As we enter not just a new year, but a new decade, travel needs, and traveller behaviour and wants are evolving exponentially. Eco-conscious travellers are becoming more insistent on meaningful experiences, and the theme continues into this new decade, as travellers reflect on their impact on the planet and local communities. Travelling “light” is more important now than ever before.
Responsible travellers are more mindful than ever of the growing concern about climate change. Wilderness Safaris has been dedicated to conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife through its model of sustainable, high-end ecotourism for some 37 years, inspiring our guests to effect positive change in their own lives and spheres of influence. Since 2012, the group has reduced its use of plastic water bottles by 75%, leading to a win in the coveted African Responsible Tourism Awards in 2018.
At Bisate in Rwanda, Wilderness Safaris acquired former agricultural land for the purpose of reforestation, and some 27 000 trees have been planted since the lodge opened in 2017. Along the Zambezi River, the tree planting project at Toka Leya in Zambia has helped ensure that the formerly degraded site has been rehabilitated to become a lush riverine woodland once more.
Our industry is intensely aware of reducing carbon emissions from travellers. According to Conde Nast Traveler, carbon offsetting has been around for years but no one has paid much attention to it. Now, as the prospect of a climate crisis looms, travellers in 2020 are doing everything they can to balance the negative impact of their trips with positive offsetting.
At the very least, this means taking the initiative around renewable energy projects. Wilderness Safaris is proud to play a significant role in the biodiversity conservation of untouched wilderness areas. All our camps operate with a light carbon footprint, through initiatives such as reducing their dependence on fossil fuels in order to achieve carbon neutrality. With 17 of our 40 camps now 100% solar-powered, the company continues to showcase its commitment to sustainability.
In recent years, we have started hearing about overtourism, which is challenging – and in some cases already irreversibly altering – previously sought-after destinations, due to mass popularity. Booking.com estimates that “over 54% of global travellers want to play a part in reducing overtourism”. The intention is to not visit attractions where crowds are unavoidable, and rather to journey to new or little-known destinations.
Wilderness Safaris camps in Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe provide highly memorable, authentic African experiences in intimate and exclusive destinations – the very antithesis of overtourism.
Intrepid Travel has shared that travellers want adventurous journeys that get them out of their comfort zone in 2020 – adventures that challenge them and also make for a story to share with friends and family. What better bragging rights at your next get-together than sharing about your cultural visit to a traditional Himba village near Serra Cafema or thrilling one-hour gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
DNA trips, or “ancestral tourism” are on the rise. Conde Nast Traveler reports that home DNA tests such as Ancestry DNA and 23andMe are becoming increasingly popular as people express a renewed interest in their heritage, and are looking to travel to where their ancestors originated. Come to the Okavango Delta and meet a Bayei (river Bushman) to find out more about this ancestry, including the world’s “first people”.
According to the Global Wellness Institute report, wellness tourism is projected to reach a global market worth USD919 billion by 2022. Mindfulness and wellbeing activities are a high priority on holiday checklists this year. Travellers are looking to get more out of their trips – from yoga, meditation and nature escapes to digital detoxing.
Wilderness Safaris camps such as Mombo and Jao in Botswana, Toka Leya in Zambia and Bisate in Rwanda offer serene wellness experiences that guarantee self-healing, and reconnecting with oneself and the environment.
By Wendy Ngcobo
Post courtesy of Wilderness Safaris